Sunday, 7 June 2015

Entertainment stuff from the week 1-7/6/15

Hi bloggees,

First up (and last written, incidentally) The Darkness' new album is out!

'Last Of Our Kind' is their fourth album, and it's fantastic.

I was expecting something more like Red Light Fever, but it's got a wonderful sound, some lovely crunchy guitars ('Mighty Wings') and i can't get 'Hammer & Tongs' out of my head.

Earwormed! Yeaaaah :-D

'#079 - Sense about science'

James and Myles were joined by Chris Peters, from the charity 'Sense About Science', last week.

'Sense About Science' has been going for a few years, and is playing an important role in communicating Science, and the importance of Science, to as many people as possible.

In the show, they mention this quiz:

'Ask for Evidence - Spoof Diets'

The task is to read the descriptions of the thirteen fad-diet descriptions, and judge whether you think they are real, or spoofs.

It's Poe's Law all over again: the crazier something is, the more difficult it is to distinguish the real thing from a parody.

I know - you're getting flashbacks to four weeks ago - but go on, it's good fun :-D

'The stupidity that just won't die! Solar Cycleways and other snake oil!!'

So, Thunderf00t's caught up with the Solar Freakin' Cyclepaths thing, that i commented on three weeks ago.

It really is disappointing to find out what kinds of people are falling for this shit. Cara Santa Maria, really??

When it comes to projects like these, that you want to actually happen in real life, it's important to always remind yourself of the importance of a cost-benefit analysis.

With everything you do, there will be a benefit or benefits, and a cost or costs, and it's the balance between the two that determines whether you should proceed with your plan or without it. {You should also compare to other options}

- If the numbers say that the costs of the solar freakin' cycleways are going to be thousands of times more than the amount of electricity returned in a year, then you should drop the idea, and spend the money on something more productive.

- If the numbers say that sequestering CO2 and turning it into smartphone covers is an incredibly expensive way of achieving a negligible benefit, then you should drop the idea, and spend the money on something more productive.

- If someone says they can levitate a house for "thirteen dollars and ten cents" then you should fall silent and slowly back away...

This is why it's morally wrong for healthcare organisations to waste money on branded drugs, when an identical drug without the branding (a generic) can be bought 40 times over! Which is far more financially viable for a charity, like MSF, that strives to treat 40 times as many people - as many as possible.

And it's also why it's morally wrong to force the NHS to set aside half a billion pounds to be spent on really expensive anti-cancer drugs, when that money could be better spent on cheaper ones that spare more people the morbidity and premature mortality of living with cancer.

It's also where the moral obligation for Pollies to get their policy decisions right comes from.

If they waste public funds on vanity projects, for which no evidence suggests there will be tangible benefit, then they are committing crimes of abuse against their public, through neglect. They have to choose between policies.

By neglecting to make cost-benefit judgements, the claims of quacks and cultists can be granted false respect, too.

"What's the harm of homeopathy/prayer?" is something every Rationalist in the world has heard, and probably numerous times, as if there's genuinely no cost to dementedly pursuing a blatantly inferior option, with the result of a majorly degraded quality of life.

- When people are thinking about what their fantasy ally might want, they're not making realistic life decisions.

- When people are thinking about what herbal potion or empty sugar pill they want, they're not making realistic medical decisions.

Costs often manifest through neglect of superior options.

The French government, for example, has recently suggested that it's following the German government, in winding down its nuclear energy industry... in the interests of the environment!

If they do that, then they, like the Germans, will be forced to fall back on fossil fuels, with the result of missing their environmental CO2eq emissions targets.

The cost-benefit analysis is far more favourable to the elimination of fossil fuels, before anything's done with nuclear power, than it is to wind down nuclear power with fossil fuels very much still in play.

By getting 'locked on' to their pet peeves, these people pursue their personal vanity projects, with disregard for the best option to take, in this situation, right here, now.

It's not environmentally viable to get rid of nuclear power now; or to shift to 'organic' farming ever; or to force farmers to use/abuse all their land all the time; or to replace roads/paths with fragile, inefficient networks of solar panels.

Possibly the biggest danger with poorly constructed agendas, however, is the threat of emotional burnout.

When people have to be told "NO!" until they give in, they often become reticent with the entire subject, regardless of nuance.

If this happens with solar power, then they'll give up on all applications of solar panels, and not just those where they're misapplied.

This has already happened with nuclear power, which is generally a good idea, that has been poorly applied in very few (but very famous) examples. Decades of banality in France's nuclear power production is glazed over entirely. Nuclear power is the safest energy industry.

Religion is probably the most famous example of this: many people have simply given up on the subject, no matter how important it is.

They hate theists, and they hate antitheists. The only option they're willing to consider, is to stick their heads in the sand and hum to themselves.

Consequently, the crimes of religion go substantially less challenged than they should be.

In fact, it's thought by those with a keen interest in the sociological role of the Media, that the 'spinners' of modern Politics have played a huge role, through the Media industry, in manufacturing emotional burnout.

By manipulating people with emotional rollercoasters: "Bombs, puppies; death, holidays; superbugs, cancer breakthrough; migrants, sports results" channels can engender an emotional fatigue, which renders the viewer/listener/reader with a generalised inability to care about anything.

This lethargy profoundly inhibits their ability to investigate subjects of interest (to which they'd find only hopelessly contradictory answers, anyway) and so they resort to simply thinking/doing what they're told.

It's not like they can see any alternative. 'Life is all grim despair, except that guy there seems to know what he wants. So vote UKIP'. Please don't.

It's also how "no politics, please" has become such a popular mantra, on the web. People are just too fatigued to listen to it, or too disturbed to not talk about it. "no politics" offers people the promise of "FREEDOM!!!".

The cost-benefit analysis of running your own life, therefore, says that you should avoid the Gutter Press. Don't read it. Not at all.

OK, maybe occasionally. For a laugh.

But don't do it for long; or watch TV News; or read articles on MSN/Buzz/etc. They will wear you down, and leave you bitter and twisted.

Ironic, really, isn't it. That the best way to stay 'in touch' and well-functioning as a member of society, is to not hear about it too much.

It won't matter that much, anyway. Media organisations deliberately seek out the peculiar events, that don't represent reality.

The one thing they really try hard to not cover, is normalcy.

If a day goes by like normal, then they'll dig something old up, just to try to surprise you.

So if you're going to brave the bewildering environment of what passes as 'News', whether it's real or fake, the least you should do, is stay skeptical.



The 31st of May 2015 was the WHO's 'World No Tobacco Day'. Whether you're addicted to nicotine or not; surely you can accept that sucking smoke directly from the combusting poison-laden leaves of tobacco plants, is a really bad way to cessate cravings.

In other news:

In recent weeks, we were visited by the Flying Spaghetti Monster (all praise her noodly goodness) in a miraculous appearance over Queenstown, New Zealand. Not Queensland, Newtown - they're quite different! Clearly, Pastafarians are the chosen ones. Suffice to say: "RAmen!" ;-)

In completely different and separate and not-at-all-connected News, an international team of researchers has found that ~5% of people experience audio and visual hallucinations, at some point in their lives. This is according to a medical definition, so 'hearing' your name called in a silent room counts, but 'hearing' your name amidst the noise in a packed room doesn't. Neither does thinking Nicholas Cage to have personality. In contrast, ~20% of people experience clinical Anxiety at some time, ~20% experience clinical Depression at some time, and ~30% experience insomnia at some time. All three of these conditions have a tendency to go together. As do hallucinations. It's become an adage that if you don't have your dreams asleep, you'll have them while you're awake. So it's not so crazy to think that 1 in 20 people might have sporadic hallucinations. It does, however, provide a 'healthy' (large) source population from which complete nutterbutter bulldust stories can come. Ghost stories come from mundane experiences, that are edited post-hoc into ghastly characters; so it's very plausible that mundane hallucinations can provide nuclei, from which bizarre testimonials can grow. 5% of hundreds of millions of people, is millions of hallucinations, and plenty of room for cranky testimonials to sprout forth in.

One of the perpetrators of the 'bleach as a panacea' fraud (mentioned here, five weeks ago) has finally been prosecuted: "Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was convicted following a seven-day trial of conspiracy, smuggling, selling misbranded drugs and defrauding the United States". He was selling bleach. He still sells bleach. His suppliers are all very much in operation. And the most annoying thing to me, is the sheer duplicity of presenting a front to the regulators of 'we're only selling water purifiers' but then turning to potential victims, and saying 'mineral miracle solution' (bleach) can treat a wide variety of illnesses, as well as autism. Sacre bleu!

Embarrassing interpretation of a report, by the 'pop' Press, of the week: the Torygraph and Daily Fail, et al, tried to make the Nemertea video that went viral (across the original upload and mirrors) out to be "horrifying footage" causing "panic" amongst locals in Taiwan, and around the world!!! In reality, it's a fascinating form of ribbon worm, that should be welcomed not with hysterical fear, but with slack-jawed curiosity.

Maybe they won't feel as embarrassed however (in their insistence that they know how to do journalism good) as the UFOlogist who cited a satirical spoof website as an evidence source, and the ex-vice president of FIFA - Jack Warner - who cited an article from The Onion, in support of his claim that the USA is exhibiting a double-standard in investigating FIFA for corruption! "If FIFA is so bad, why is it the USA wants to keep the FIFA World Cup?" he bleated. Honestly; do i have to invoke Poe's Law for the third time in five weeks? :-D

As expected, the slow-down in global atmospheric warming (not surface warming, which continued apace) (and not a stop in warming - just a slower rise than before) has returned to the expected and feared higher rates of increase. This research has affirmed what climatologists had already found - that warming continues, and was expected to accelerate back to trend. The Southern Oscillation is suspected to be the factor that made the rate of warming appear to slow, as El Ninos produce spikes of hot temperature, and the following La Ninas are cooler periods. Climate Change obstructionists have exploited this cycle for half a century (as long as climate change has been known to be a fact) to present incomplete graphs, leading from one El Nino, and stopping just before the next one, producing the illusion of decreasing or not-rising temperatures. Consequently, obstructionists have claimed every decade to be the one in which global warming stopped. In the 90s, warming stopped in the 80s; in the 00s, warming stopped in the 90s; and now we're in the 10s, they claim the warming stopped in the 00s. Very obvious, when you see the trend, but apparently it works. National governments around the world still think money spent on mitigating climate change to be wasted. Only international organisations seem to have made any decent headway - the EU, ICF, UN, etc.

Say what you like about KFC. Go ahead. But there's a not-low chance that what you say is going to be complete chicken nuggets. A huge pile of steaming salsa sauce. In fact, internet-based marketing companies have been commissioned by KFC's competitors to spread rumours such as 'KFC modified its chickens to have six legs' in order to undermine its market share. Now, whether you think KFC's market share is too big or not, that's a dastardly way to increase your own! Many people have been deceived, if not necessarily into believing the lies, then into believing the rumours to have come from individuals - not from unscrupulous marketing companies! KFC has been fighting back, though, by filing lawsuits against three China-based companies, in recent weeks. I wonder how they'll get on.

Meanwhile, the Google Fails roll on. Searching for "top 10 criminals" in Google Images returns images of India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and previously the USA's President Barack Obama, too. Last week, their Creationism Fail drew a correction. But this week, i noticed that their Phrenology Fail remains. Click here for the screencaps.

Twitter has received flak for irrationally closing down its arm of the website Pollitwoops, which archives deleted tweets by Pollies. Most of them, of course, are corrections of mistakes, but occasionally they are something more interesting. Twitter's misreasoning was that it somehow 'breached people's privacy' to have people see the tweets they made public, and then attempted to have erased from history!? I have revealed on this blog, before, that i tend heavily toward leaving my mistakes in, for multiple reasons: honesty, transparency, and to make it clear that i'm a real thing that makes mistakes. I want my readers (you) to know that you don't have to be immaculate, to be worthy of a blog - it's the content that matters, and the direction you take. Up? Down? Accept mistakes, and strive to improve - don't hide them, and drag yourself down.

Solar Impulse 2 got into a bit of trouble, in its longest leg, between Nanjing and Hawaii, last week, with strong gusts of wind pushing it off course and damaging its ailerons. So the aeroplane has had to stop over in Japan for some repairs, but their journey's expected to continue soon.

------------------------------------------------------ contemporary stuff

'The Beagles - Desperados and Bat Guano (Radio Active)' (my upload)

'Upside Down Mountains in Real Life'

'Is The Earth Round? - A Week in Science'

'Homeopathic Ebola'

'Good Thinking Investigates: Homeopathic Pharmacies'

'The Mass Murder Show'

'How Safe are Tanning beds?'

'Door Knockers : Arbonne | The Checkout'

'Checkout Chumps : Not Appy Club | The Checkout'

'Signs Of The Time Series 3 Episode 9 | The Checkout'

'The Checkout - Season 3 Episode 8'

'What Would Scooby Do?'

'Sisters Episode 7: Emma Stone {The Kloons}'

'Grandpa Walking His Tortoise'

'Image: The effect of the winds of Mars'

'New species of horned dinosaur with 'bizarre' features revealed'
{Here's a video of a 3D scan of Regaliceratops peterhewsi's skull: }

------------------------------------------------------ of the weeks

Word Of The Week: verisimilitude -- having an appearance of truth, whether actually possessing it or not; example usage: "the Chancellor's economic report had verisimilitude, but on investigation, was found to be entirely fictitious"

Quote Of The Week: "Funny is funny and there are brilliant people in every generation. What has changed is that young stand-ups, the men and the women, talk about themselves, whereas old-timers like me tend to talk about other people. I like being with the young ones, 'cos they jolt you and spark you up. I bite my lip sometimes when somebody young says ‘we had this idea...’ and I think ‘oh yeah, we did that in 1958’. But they’ve got a new twist on it. They didn’t know we did it in 1958." - Barry Cryer

Fact Of The Week: There is a hybrid sport, called Chess Boxing / Chessboxing, which was invented by Dutchman Iepe Rubingh in 2003. It's played in nine rounds, alternating between chess (to start) and boxing, with three minutes per round, and the game can be won by either chess or boxing rules

------------------------------------------------------ non-contemporary stuff

Here's a little extra, on top of last week's Nerd³ stuff...

'Nerd³ FW - LEGO Worlds'

'Assassin's Creed 3 - 30 Glitches in 15 Minutes'
This compilation isn't even concise!

'Top 10 Video Game Glitches'

'Another Top 10 Video Game Glitches'

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